Join the next generation of civil rights lawyers

Named in honor of the legendary civil rights attorney and LDF founder Thurgood Marshall, and iconic civil rights litigator Constance Baker Motley, the Marshall-Motley Scholars Program (MMSP) is a groundbreaking commitment to endow the South with the next generation of civil rights lawyers trained to provide legal advocacy of unparalleled excellence.


Fighting for racial justice and equity, Serving Black communities in the south

This moment in our nation calls for a full complement of highly-trained and dedicated civil rights lawyers prepared to meet the challenges we confront and serve our communities with excellence. Established by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), the MMSP is committed to identifying and investing in the next generation of aspiring lawyers dedicated to pursuing racial justice in the South, and for whom this work is a personal and professional calling.

The MMSP will support and develop the next wave of civil rights lawyers in the South, where the majority of Black Americans live. Over the next five years, we will invest in the establishment of a corps of 50 civil rights attorneys equipped and prepared to advocate on behalf of Black communities in the South seeking racial justice and equity.

Scholars who demonstrate a commitment to this mission will be afforded:

  • A full law school scholarship for tuition, room and board, and incidentals to alleviate the debt burden that can prevent future lawyers from pursuing a career as a civil rights lawyer;
  • Summer internships with national and regional civil rights organizations with offices in the South focused on racial justice to jumpstart training in civil rights law;
  • Two-year postgraduate fellowship at civil rights law organizations in the South fighting to achieve racial justice; and
  • Access to special trainings sponsored by LDF and the National Academy of Sciences.


LDF has worked for decades to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice

Founded in 1940 by Thurgood Marshall, LDF was launched at a time when equity and due process were stifled by widespread state-sponsored racial inequality. Over the next 80 years, LDF challenged those injustices and remains at the forefront of developing and supporting many of our nation’s legendary civil rights lawyers and leaders.

During the 1960s, and early ‘70s, LDF invested in the creation of Black law firms in the American South, providing fellowships and start-up costs for the law practices of some of the most celebrated civil rights lawyers in the region. The time is ripe once again for LDF to invest in the growth and development of civil rights lawyers in the South, where Black people continue to struggle against impediments to voting, education equity, and racial and economic justice.

The MMSP is the next phase of our commitment. Paired with the opening of our new regional office in Atlanta, LDF is deepening its presence in the region to help leverage the talent, passion, and commitment of a new cohort of civil rights attorneys dedicated to serving the South.